For hundreds of years, people in northern and central Europe had been noticing large, out-of-place boulders that seemed to have been dropped in a field, or popped up from underground. “Erratics”, they came to be called. Legends attributed the boulders to giants, trolls, and the Devil. By the early 1820s many natural history philosophers, scientists, came to focus on ‘ice’ as the likely mechanism of transport. But the source of all the ice was a mystery.
This is second in a series by RCA Member David Horne.
In October 2016, I started planning an astro tour to the southern hemisphere. Why Chile? Because Chile is much closer than Australia, plus I am Latino and fluent in Spanish. Of the two main Chile astro destinations, I decided on the Elqui Valley over San Pedro de Atacama for three main reasons. First, the Elqui Valley is easier to reach, one 45 minute flight from Santiago and then a 57km drive to Vicuna. Second, health reasons. San Pedro is situated at 2407 meters (7900 ft); Elqui Valley is lower at 709 meters (2326 ft). Third, the Elqui Valley has 320 clear nights per year (versus 250 for San Pedro).
The more awareness we “shine” on the importance of dark skies, the more we learn of the detrimental effects to biological organisms. Last June, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared that light at night is harmful to our health. Most recently, researchers studying hamsters found that animals can pass the damaging effects of nighttime light exposure to their offspring. We amateur astronomers know the value of dark skies in satisfying our innate sense of wonder, our passion for science, and our psyches’ fondness for the vast silence of space. But how do we appeal to the folks who haven’t caught the astronomy bug?
The Telescope Library has published a call for volunteers. The details can be found in the Telescope Library board on the Forum, and on the Telescope Library page on the RCA Website. Volunteers are needed to make sure service is responsive and can meet demand, maintain the quality and diversity of our collection, and build the library into a resource for the whole group. In exchange, the library offers training and exposure to the various disciplines required for everything the Library will be doing in the future, and the satisfaction of providing good service to the group.
Is it time to start or renew your magazine subscriptions to Astronomy or Sky and Telescope? Be sure to take advantage of the discounts for RCA club members.
Save a stamp by paying at the next RCA meeting. Just drop off your check/cash (and a mailing label or renewal notice from your magazine) at the Magazine Subscription table. We'll help keep these great magazines coming to your mailbox.
This is the story of the imprint of Earth’s orbital cycles on the climate of our planet. Scientists now believe that certain features of Earth’s orbital motions act as a trigger for Earth’s long-term climate cycles, including the cyclical planet-wide glacier cover, popularly called the “Ice Ages” — and termed by science glacial epochs. Scientists first discovered the glacial cycles in the middle of the 19th Century. But the theory linking the glacial epochs to variations in solar radiation caused by cyclical changes in certain of Earth’s orbital motions, had to wait until the first years of the 20th Century.
This is first in a series by RCA Member David Horne.
The outreach team is looking for ~10 volunteers to join us at the fairgrounds on 21 August to support OMSI's event in Salem. All 8000 tickets are sold out, so if you wanted to go - here is your chance!If you don't have a scope, we can provide one for you. If you'd rather do some tabling, you can talk to visitors about RCA, eclipse mechanics, go deep into the Sun, Moon, or anything else astro-related you want to speak on. Please note: You may feel free to pause public viewing from your scope as you need in order to take images, and we will suggest people enjoy the sight. OMSI will be encouraging everyone to view the event in silence (for the most part).
Our Telescope Library collection is stored in space donated by OMSI and TMS (where library items are available each month). This year, conditions are changing at OMSI; with construction planned, our collection will have to reside somewhere else. TMS has been very generous with storage, but we are at our limit for space there.Our first choice is acquiring suitable space, to store the collection. Please contact us if you can help with space. Keep in mind that the fair market value of storage space (as rent) is tax-deductible, as are any donations to fund storage space and transportation, due to our non-profit status
April 22nd this year is Earth Day. It is also the first day of International Dark Sky Week (April 22 – 28), and the day of the March for Science. The national march in Washington, D.C. is sponsored or supported by over one hundred national science organizations. There will be some four hundred satellite marches around the country, including in Portland. After considered discussion, the Board has voted for RCA to march as an organization in the Portland march on April 22nd: we are marching in support of scientific research and science education, and we will march in support of dark skies.